Stay Curious.
Dig Deeper.
Nurture What Matters.
Be BoldHeart.
Enjoy Your Life.

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The BoldHeartMama desires to enjoy living out the choices that she’s made for herself and for her family. She is a relentless learner: curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She understands that there isn't one right way—she asks questions that dig deeper to make sense of it all and to find her own path.

She pays attention to and nurtures whatever it is she really cares about, letting go of the rest (for now) knowing she can't do and be everything all at once. She embraces her imperfections in favor of "good enough"—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and she never stops evolving as a woman and mother. She is a BoldHeart, authentic and true to herself.

The BoldHeartMama knows there is only this one life and she's all in. She is present and engaged and making things happen. Her intuition is her guide. She seeks to be inspired and relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world.

The BoldHeartMama is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. She is living out her BoldHeart in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up, and she's cultivating a good life for herself and her family in the process. Read More!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Fudge Pops

These Popsicles have been a huge hit around here:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 box chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup sugar

Mix it all up in a bowl with a whisk and pour it into your molds. We like the Tovolo brand. Freeze them for a few hours and then eat 'em up, but bring your napkins because they are very fudge-y and super messy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Squash

The garden is full now with vines, and flowers. Yesterday I discovered beneath all the foliage two small bell peppers. The zucchini, cucumber, and melons aren't bearing fruit yet, but I guess they have the entire summer to do their work.

Our latest harvest resulted in four perfect yellow squash.


I've never eaten fried squash blossoms, but since we have a surplus, I thought I'd find out for myself why they are considered a delicacy and make squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta. I learned the difference between male and female flowers and picked about 10 male blossoms (on second thought, I hope I left enough to pollinate the rest of the females!). The blossoms were open in the morning--that's the time of day when they get pollinated—but closed by the time I picked them in the afternoon. The petals are thin and gauzy, and tear easily. They would have been easier to stuff if I had picked them earlier in the day but, in hindsight, I probably preserved the next harvest by allowing time for the bees to do their thing with the pollen.

We ate the blossoms and tomato sauce over rice, with a side of sauteed squash. The tomatoes paired well with the cheese. It felt good to make a meal out of our own garden.




The blossoms were so delicate and so so delicious. I mean, they were amazing. The mint mixed into the ricotta was perfection and deep frying each blossom was just the thing. Since I later realized that this dish is meant for zucchini blossoms, not yellow squash blossoms, we'll no doubt be making it again soon. I'm already looking forward to it.

What's your favorite Summer recipe?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day 2011

Luckies

This year's t-shirt pick came from Etsy seller Revolution46. They were the perfect choice for a former Lego geek and his up and coming offspring.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Four Months



But seriously, our little Merritt Boy is four months old! Last we checked he weighs a little over 11 pounds, which means he's doubled his birth weight, and then some. I think that is amazing. Roscoe was a very slow gainer, admittedly, but at four months he weighed about the same at 11 pounds 6 ounces.

Merritt still spends much of every day asleep in the sling, but he stays awake for longer stretches now (upwards of 2 hours) and has really started to communicate in the last week with lots of coos and gurgles accompanied by some pretty goofy grins. He has strong little legs and can hold himself up in a standing position well. He's recently started to drool a lot and to reach for some of his toys. Overall, he's an incredibly happy and mellow baby.


Why so serious?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Diapering x2


We've been cloth diapering since Roscoe was two months old. Initially, we bought twelve Bum Genius one size AIOs and once we got the hang of it we added twelve more. It's been a relatively low maintenance investment, and the diapers are still in great condition. Only recently did Roscoe outgrow them. Yep, he wore the same 24 diapers for almost two years.

Abby's Lane opened a brick and mortar store nearby (it's awesome if you are local), and we went to the grand opening a few weekends ago. It made for a very pleasant Saturday afternoon because the farmer's market was in full swing, we ate lunch next door at a self proclaimed "breastfeeding friendly" restaurant , and we found a tot lot around the corner. Roscoe got to watch the trains coming and going from the VRE station, and we ordered extra thick strawberry milkshakes for the road. But, I digress.

I've never had the opportunity to shop for cloth diapers in person, but whew! It's so much better than shopping online. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the hundreds of cloth diapering options and permutations available. Even with everything laid out in front of me, and sound advice from well versed staff, I still spent almost two hours just browsing.

As it turns out, at Roscoe's age and with his sturdy build, he's really too big for most AIOs. Our options are limited to Bum Genius size extra large (pros: we know and love the brand, they come with one insert; cons: they cost 17.95 each, are available in white only, and have snap closures) or Happy Heinys size extra large (pros: they cost 15.95 and have velcro tab closures; cons: inserts are not included, and they are available in a variety of "off" colors). In the end, our decision to purchase Happy Heinys was based on the fact that we favor velcro over snaps.

With every intention to wash diapers every other day we bought twelve Happy Heinys in a variety of colors that Roscoe chose himself, and 12 BabyKicks inserts at 4.99 each (to be paired with the infant inserts from our original twenty four BGs). I've been really happy with their performance so far. We use disposables overnight and at nap time.

Armed with new information we also switched from Planet detergent to Tide ultra which elevates tremendously the chore of cloth diaper washing. Planet detergent did the job okay, but Tide just smells so good and, frankly, seems to do a better job.

As Roscoe grew up and out of his bum genius diapers, Merritt grew right into them. By the time I had the energy to even consider swaddling Merritt's bum in cloth, he had all but outgrown the entire newborn stash that I had assembled prior to his arrival. That was a disappointing realization, but the BGs on the smallest setting with the one size inserts fit him well. I do still struggle with the bulk of the BGs on such a small frame, but that's the way it goes, I guess, with diapers designed to fit babies 7 to 35 pounds. (As a side note, I really loved the fit of the BG size extra small AIOs, which he did get to wear quite a bit for at least a few weeks before they became too snug.)


This last one reminds of me of a similar picture of Roscoe, two months younger.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

First Harvest


Picking peas is a little bit trial and error to differentiate the perfectly plump and sweet ones from the hard and starchy overripe ones. Tasting is the best way to know for sure.


We picked 7 pea pods yesterday. Not surprisingly, Roscoe ripped the pods right open and munched on the raw peas inside before anyone else could catch a taste--well, I did get to sample one before he got his hands on them.

I've heard that picking peas and eating them on the way to the kitchen is the happiest way to do it, so I think Roscoe has the right idea.






Thursday, June 9, 2011

Good News.

My doctor called us at home late Wednesday night to tell me that the biopsy results were indicative of a fibroadenoma--a benign growth. I am relieved and feeling a lot but haven't yet had time to really process my thoughts.

While she mentioned that biopsies carry a 5% sampling error, she also said that the radiologist and pathologist were each confident that they biopsied an adequate amount of tissue from all areas of the tumor.

It is their practice to order a follow-up ultrasound, just to be on the safe side. Mine is scheduled for September. In the meantime I will take extra care to watch for any changes.

Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Down by the River

After Friday's marathon biopsy visit, I was feeling what was surely a state of stress induced exhaustion. I wanted to eat a pint of ice cream and then melt into my bed but we had been looking forward to a weekend getaway at my in-law's river house a couple of hours away, so the kids and I went home to nap, and then pack, while Andy headed into the office for a super-abbreviated work day.

With all of our stuff, including the dog, crowded snugly into the car (we teeter on the brink of needing a minivan) we left around Roscoe's bedtime and stopped at Starbucks on the way to the interstate in order to commence 48 hours of do-nothingness.

The river house was built from scratch by Andy's parents, and is situated right on the bank of Lodge Creek off of the Yeocomico river with a dock that leads straight off the back yard and down into the water. While it sees some use throughout the year, it is left largely uninhabited. We were more than happy to take the opportunity to fill its rustic walls with thunderous toddler footsteps, and the sweet smells of home cooking.


We didn't leave the property all weekend. In fact, I never left my pajamas. Roscoe followed Andy like his shadow and by the end of each day both were covered in nature's dirt from head to toe. They spent most of their time on projects in and around the yard. Roscoe even had his first tick, which was a little alarming at first realization, but it turned out to be fine. Merritt and I caught up on our sleep, nursed, cooked three squares a day but, mostly, he and I just sat around like toads on lily pads reading magazines or watching big brother and poppa in their element. I felt a little unproductive for the duration, but when I climbed into my bed Sunday night and found that my usually racing mind was oddly quiet, I knew the weekend away had been just what I needed.


Of course I can't write a post without mentioning what we ate! It was a welcomed challenge to use up all of the food that we brought, no less, no more. We indulged a little (okay, a lot) in roasted beets, pancakes with maple syrup and farmer's market sausage, strawberry and peach shortcake, chili and cornbread, banana milkshakes, and ice cream cones with sprinkles, among other things. It seemed like a good time to give in to our cravings and to eat what we were hungry for. Comfort food and quality togetherness.

Roscoe picking stems off the tomatoes before dinner

We did manage one leisurely walk after dinner and before we headed home, so maybe that helped to balance out all the meals we enjoyed. I will say that it's a little humbling to be out in the world, basked in the air from the dusky heat of sunset, with the most important people in your life.

Do you have a go to spot when you need a little r&r?

Do we have a case of the twinsies?


Exhibit A


Exhibit B

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Knowing more: Friday's appointment

Friday morning finally came after what felt like a very, very, long week of waiting. My anxiety had ramped up over the later part of the week and, despite my better judgement, my mind had been wandering to some pretty dark and scary places.

Andy stayed home from work so that we could tackle the appointment and wrangle the boys together, and we drove uneventfully to the hospital in the city for what we thought would be a quick second opinion.

Roscoe was too full of curiosity, energy, and emotion to sit in one place for long so we split up shortly after we arrived. Roscoe and Andy left for the waiting room, while Merritt (hungry, as always) and I stayed to wait for the doctor. She arrived lovely and poised, her tone was warm and she spoke slowly and deliberately. I liked her right away. I felt relieved to be at Georgetown and confident that I was in the right place. She reviewed my family's cancer history (there's really not much to document), and other risk and protective factors. Then we moved on to discuss my lump.

She showed me an image from one of the ultrasound films, and pointed to a clearly delineated oval. She explained that the borders of the mass are smooth (a good sign), and that it grows in the plane of the breast tissue (also a good sign). She noted that one area of the mass has more shadows than the rest, and that the biopsy had probably been ordered based on that area alone. She did an exam one-handed, clutching Merritt in the crook of one arm since I needed both of mine to strike the familiar breast exam poses.

Then she asked if I wouldn't mind another ultrasound. Of course I didn't. We spent some time discussing the information that I had received about the potential risks involved with a biopsy during lactation. I learned more about milk fistula, and met with the other doctors to further discuss ways to minimize the risks while still moving forward with the procedure.

Three months of "watchful waiting" was identified as an alternate option, and when I shared that a catastrophic thinker like myself would have a hard time surviving that long, she mused that we wonder why the cost of health care is out of control, only exacerbated by unnecessary tests. "It's because people can't bear to live with the uncertainty." I shook my head, knowingly.

I asked if they would advise a biopsy given a different circumstance--say the same diagnosis but a woman not currently nursing her child. They said yes, they would, and right then I knew that it was what I wanted too. I wanted the same standard of care.

She left the room to order the ultrasound and to see if a biopsy could be performed later that afternoon.

What might have been one hour, turned into almost six as I was ushered into and out of the maze of hallways, doors, and patient rooms that make up the Breast Center. Andy and the kids had been given a consult room to camp out in so in between meetings I sought shelter there too, filling Andy in on the latest, nursing Merritt, and chatting with Roscoe who has had a lot to say lately.

In the end, the doctors decided it was best to take a conservative approach and instead of using the smallest gauge needles as necessary for a true core biopsy, they started with the largest gauge needle used for a fine needle aspiration and worked their way down until they had enough tissue to comprise an adequate sample. For me, that meant two different sized needles and five separate attempts.

I watched the whole thing on the ultrasound and felt some of it, too, since the doctor opted not to give me a full dose of lidocaine.

I nursed Merritt right before the procedure to empty as much milk as I could, and I nursed him on the affected side just a few hours later once back at home. The site has been a little tender but I can hardly complain.

I'm grateful for physicians who listen, and who care about families. Physicians who are unafraid and willing to find creative solutions in order to meet their patients where they are and who provide the best quality health care to ensure the highest quality of life.

The results will be in later this week.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bradley Babies 2.0

Our Bradley birth course helped us to establish realistic expectations and equipped us as a team to approach labor and birth with confidence. As an added bonus we met and became friends with five other couples who have since become families that we are truly bonded to. All of our babies were born within a couple of months of each other back in 2009, and just two years later we're celebrating the arrival of their siblings.

Merritt was born first, and Mary Anna was born just a week ago in a laborious and accomplished 36 hour VBAC. We got to meet her today, and she weighs just two ounces less than Merritt!

Big brothers Roscoe and Jonathan were in all out toddler mode, and the newbies slept and nursed, hardly a surprise on either account.

Two more babies will be born this Summer.

Here's the first of our Bradley Babies 2.0 group shots:
Merritt (14.5 weeks), Mary Anna (7 Days)
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